Topic seven BRINGING IT ALL THINK CRITICALLY ABOUT ANIMAL WELFARE ISSUES!
• Work cooperatively in partnerships to prepare for debates• Research sensitive animal welfare issues for farm animals• Debate these issues from the affirmative or negative position• Debate these issues in the role of different stakeholder groups
• Student Resource 1A-O• Student Activity 1
• Pairing tools• Pen/paper• Whiteboard/markers• Internet access and/or library research time
Colored stickers or popsicle sticks (red, blue, green, yellow, etc.)
Colored animal crackers (red, blue, green, yellow, etc.)
Toy farm animals (pig, chicken, horse, cow, etc.)
Brainstorming Bidding TechniqueIn order to establish which pair has the most number of brainstormed ideas set a number andcheck up, then down. I.e. Ask, who has over 20? Answer: nobody. So, who has 19? 18? 17? The pair with the most canthen read out what they have, which should cover everyone else’s answer unless another pair has aunique or obscure answer. This is a timely method of getting through the brainstormed list and italso acknowledges the pair that has put in the most effort. Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTOPIC OUTLINE PREPARATORY EXERCISE
1. Divide class into pairs as they walk through the door using one of the ‘pair-
GROUP BRAINSTORMTime: 2 minutesResources:
• Pen/paper• Whiteboard/markers• Topic One, Transparency Master 1 (page 23)
1. Tell students that they will focus on agricultural case studies in this topic. 2. Give pairs two minutes to brainstorm as many animal welfare stakeholder
groups as they can think of. - Consider showing Topic One, Transparency Master 1 – Who do youbelieve? to get the brainstorm started.
3. Tell students that there is not just one single critic challenging the livestock
industry. Critics include the public (whether informed or uninformed),animal rights groups, traditional animal welfare advocates, researchers,veterinarians and livestock producers with differing viewpoints.
4. Solicit the results of the brainstorm from the pairs and display on white-
board ensuring the key stakeholders are included. INTRODUCTORY ACTIVITY
CLASS DISCUSSIONTime: 15 minutesResources:
1. Discuss with the class why each group is concerned with animal welfare. 2. Have students make notes on each group’s concerns. Topic 7: Bringing It All Together - Case StudiesTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaACTIVITY ONE
CASE STUDY ANALYSISTime: 20 minutesResources:
• Student Resource 1A-O (page 103-117)• Student Activity 1 (page 118)
1. Give each pair a case study on the ‘hot topics’ in animal welfare.
- Pairs may select a case study or you can allocate a case study to each pair. CASE STUDY TOPICS
• 1A: Feedlots – design, pen-stocking densities & antibiotic use
• 1B: Beef Cattle – castration, dehorning & branding
• 1C: Veal Calves – housing conditions, ‘synthetic’ diets
• 1D: Sheep – tail docking, castration, handling & shearing
• 1F: PMU farms – confinement, treatment of foals
• 1G: Dairy Cows – dairy barn housing & tail docking
• 1H: Broiler Chickens & Turkeys – growth, transportation
• 1I: Laying hens – cages, general well being, beak trimming
• 1J: Pigs – Tail docking, teeth clipping, gestation stalls
• 1K: Elk – velvet antler harvesting, domestication, hunt farms
• 1L: Livestock Transportation – animal well being, handling
• 1N: Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering – ethics
• 1O: ‘Alternatively raised’ animals – ethics
2. Have students read the case study and make notes on Student Activity 1.
- Further research may be necessary depending upon student or teacher
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Bringing It All Together - Case StudiesACTIVITY TWO
MINI DEBATESTime: 20 minutes preparation or internet research time• Student Resource 1A-O (page 103-117)• Completed Student Activity 1
1. Have students make up a debate topic related to their case study.
- For example, ‘Be it resolved that tail docking of dairy cattle is a necessary
practice.’ Or ‘Be it resolved that livestock should not be transported.’
2. Have students present this topic to the class in the form of a mini-debate.
They should decide in their partnerships who will be on the affirmative andwho will be on the negative side of the debate.
3. The rest of the class will judge who has won the debate, based on the quality
of their arguments and not on their personal opinions. Gauge this by a showof hands and randomly pick members of the class to elaborate on why theyfeel one particular side won the debate. ACTIVITY TWO EXTENSION
MINI DEBATESTime: 20 minutes preparation or internet research time• Student Resource 1A-O (page 105-119)• Completed Student Activity 1
1. For an added dimension to the debates, have each student assume the role of
a stakeholder group on the side of the affirmative, negative or both. Theymay show this to the class by wearing different ‘hats’ labeled with their rolefor each argument that they present to the class. CONCLUDING ACTIVITY
INDIVIDUAL INTERPRETATIONTime: 5 minutesResources:
1. Get students to write a paragraph response on what they feel is the ‘hottest’
of the ‘hot’ topics presented and why.
2. Use their answers in your Teacher Reflection. Have they offered suggestions
Topic 7: Bringing It All Together - Case StudiesTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1A FEEDLOTS
A variety of large farm animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, bison and horses) in Alberta are ‘finished’ or fedin feedlots before they are processed into meat products at abattoirs. Feedlots have stocking levelsthat range in size from a few hundred to thousands of animals. The animals are housed in openpens and fed grain based feed until they reach optimum processing weight.
Alberta has approximately 4,000 beef feedlot operators with about 100 large feedlots finishing over75% of Alberta's beef cattle.
Critics of the industry are primarily concerned with feedlot design. Poorly designed drainage sys-tems leave the animals standing in excessive amounts of manure and mud. Minimal shelter exposesthem to wind, dust, sun and snow. These conditions are at odds with the agrarian image of farmingthat many critics have.
Critics say pen-stocking densities cause stress, promote health problems and impede individualanimal attention. They say that the industry overuses antibiotics to counter these issues.
Cattle feeders have embraced the animal care and ethical production practices promoted throughthe beef quality assurance program called Canadian Cattlemen: Quality Starts Here. They alsoutilize the Alberta Feedlot Management Guide — an information resource jointly produced by the11,000 member Feeder Associations of Alberta Ltd. and Alberta Agriculture, Food and RuralDevelopment. Animal welfare is one of the seven subject areas comprehensively covered in theGuide. Feedlot pens that are not properly drained and managed result in dirty, uncomfortable cattle thatdo not gain weight efficiently. Therefore, feedlot operators keep pens clean, well drained and ingood repair. They build bedding packs — little earth knolls covered with straw or sawdust — thatretain heat during winter. This gives the cattle a warm, dry place to lie. Alberta cattle are bred forthe Albertan environment. However, feedlot pens are built with high, solid fences that provide pro-tection from wind, sun and snow — weather conditions also faced by pastured animals.
Cattle tend to herd (group) together so feedlot pen stocking densities are not wholly unnatural. Competitive feedlots have a computerized, veterinary developed health protocol and well-trained,qualified staff. These two qualities allow them to efficiently identify, isolate and assist unhealthyanimals. This ensures that antibiotics are only administered on an as needed basis. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT RESOURCE 1B BEEF CATTLE
There are over 5 million beef cattle in Alberta. Nearly half are breeding stock. These cattle live onapproximately 35,000 farms and ranches in Alberta — called ‘cow/calf’ operations.
Cows produce one calf (baby) per year. Calves are weaned (permanently separated) from theirmothers at around six to nine months of age. Approximately half the calves are kept by the farmeras replacement breeding stock. The other half are ‘backgrounded’ for around two months — fed afeedlot preparation diet. They then begin feedlot ‘finishing.’ Depending on when they entered thefeedlot, ‘finished’ cattle are killed for meat production at 12 to 24 months of age.
Critics of the industry argue that castration, dehorning and branding cause pain and stress — par-ticularly in older animals.
The industry argues that these procedures are a necessary part of livestock husbandry and are per-formed for a variety of practical reasons. Generally, they are performed on calves under threemonths old — when pain, stress, recovery time and complications are minimized. Pain mitigationtechniques are also being studied. Castration is a procedure that removes or stops the functioning of the testicles in a bull (male) calfand is performed to abolish aggressive behavior. This safeguards other cattle and the owner. It alsoensures that cows and heifers are only bred to selected bulls, a practice essential for producinghealthy calves.
The majority of Alberta beef cattle are polled — they do not have horns. Non-polled calves areusually dehorned. This involves the horn buds being cut and cauterized or a caustic chemicalapplied to prevent further growth. Dehorned cattle are less likely to injure each other in thepasture/feedlot and during transport. Consumers benefit from a quality end product — meat withless bruising and unmarked hides.
Hot iron branding provides a large, permanent form of identification but the industry recognizesits shortcomings. Indeed, not all cattle in Alberta are branded. However, the reality is that cattleoften graze in large areas that are shared by others. Proving ownership necessitates permanentidentification. Alternative identification methods (ear tags or tattoos, implanted microchips, noseprinting and iris scanning) either lack permanence or are cost/time ineffective.
Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:
Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1C VEAL CALVES
Albertan veal production is very limited. Ontario and Quebec account for approximately 97% ofCanada’s veal production as these provinces have the greatest concentration of dairy farms. Vealcalves are generally bull (male) dairy calves. Dairy producers keep most heifers (female) calves formilk production. Calves are raised for veal because there is a consumer demand for the meat.
Critics of the industry do not approve of calf housing conditions. They say that they are kept insmall, dark stalls that deprive them of movement and proper ventilation. Criticism in England hascaused veal stalls to be banned there.
Some critics say there are instances where calves are chained in the dark to keep meat tender anddeprived of iron to keep the meat pale. They also go on to say that ‘synthetic’ diets and routine useof antibiotics endanger the health of calves and the consumer.
In Alberta, most bull dairy calves are castrated and raised like their beef breed counterparts forbeef, not veal meat.
However, where veal production occurs the calves are generally housed in stalls or group pens inventilated, well lit barns. Veal producers can pay more individual attention to stalled calves. Theycan easily monitor feed intake, stall cleanliness and calf health. Stall widths are outlined in theRecommended Code of Practice for veal calves based on calf weight. Producers ensure that calvesare able to stand up, lie down, stretch out, groom themselves and see other calves while they are installs.
Group pens allow calves greater movement and more social interaction but incidences of bullying,physical injury and dominant behavior occur. Being group housed also increases the risk for dis-ease transmission. Consequently, stalls are the preferred method of housing.
Modern veal barns have overhead artificial lighting or utilize natural sunlight. Producers needlighting to monitor the calves and perform their chores. Claims that calves are kept in the dark toobtain tender meat are false. Strict feeding protocols and On Farm Food Safety controls ensure theproduction of consistent quality, pink veal. Depriving the calves of iron would cause anemia —resulting in unhealthy calves that would have difficulty in gaining weight.
Some say banning veal stalls in England has created a greater welfare dilemma. There is a still aconsumer demand for veal so calves are shipped to European countries to be raised. The stress oftransportation on these very young calves is considerable. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:Ontario Veal Association at Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT RESOURCE 1D
Alberta has approximately 2,500 sheep producers and 167,000 sheep. Alberta is the largest produc-er of wool and the second largest producer of lamb in Canada. Alberta producers usually sell theirraw wool in-the-grease (as it comes from the sheep) or have the wool processed to create a varietyof garments.
Critics of the industry question the practice of tail docking lambs. The usual method is to put avery tight rubber ring on the end of the tail which cuts off the blood supply — the tail dies andfalls off. This can be a very painful procedure and is done without anesthetic. Castration of themale lambs is also done without anesthetic.
Sheep may also become very stressed during handling and shearing when they are separated fromthe flock, as they are extremely social animals.
Alberta producers take pride in making management decisions and formulating guidelines withthe health and welfare of the animals in mind. The Alberta sheep industry was a leader in estab-lishing the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Sheep. By using humanehusbandry practices, producers provide a healthy and comfortable existence for their animals. Adopting these good management practices ensures consumers have the most wholesome andnatural meat and wool products available.
Sheep can be very susceptible to parasites, lice and blowflies (maggots) that cause great suffering ifleft untreated. Tail docking is a way of preventing insect attack. A docked tail does not get coveredin insect-attracting manure. A docked tail keeps the sheep cleaner and reduces the need to usechemical sheep dips to treat parasites.
AFAC and Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development anticipate that sheep farmers willutilize current research on refining on-farm surgical procedures (tail docking and castration)when the findings are made available.
Sheep are shorn once a year because there is a consumer demand for wool and wool products. Shearing also ensures that the sheep do not overheat in summer. The procedure does not hurt andthe wool grows back. Trained shearers quickly shear each sheep within site of the flock to satisfytheir social nature and reduce handling stress. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit: Alberta Sheep and W
Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1E
In addition to the Alberta Bison Commission, the Alberta Bison Association (ABA) and the PeaceCountry Bison Association (PCBA), represent the bison industry in Alberta. There are approximate-ly 100,000 commercial bison in Alberta that are raised on about 1,000 ranches for their meat andhides.
Alberta bison meat products are marketed globally with four major Alberta companies supplyingthe demand for this high quality meat. Approximately 60% of all bison meat processed in Albertais exported to the USA, Europe and Pacific Asia. Two main abattoirs in Alberta (Edmonton andFort McLeod) offer European Union (EU) approved facilities. There are only three plants in Canadathat have EU certification for bison.
Bison belong to the Bovidae family of mammals, as do cattle. The Plains Bison is the primarysubspecies used in commercial operations in Alberta. Bison are native to the prairie and parklandregions of Western Canada.
Critics of the industry are especially concerned with late dehorning. Bison calves are not dehornedas early as beef calves because separating them from their aggressive mothers is very dangerous. Owners wait until the calves are weaned — which is safer for them — but more stressful on thecalves. Their horns are in a more advanced growth stage ensuring more nerve ending damage andpain. They also have to be heavily restrained.
Critics also accuse bison owners of neglect. The difficulties associated with raising bison maymean that only the most basic management practices are kept up. Dehorning is an industry management practice that involves the horn being cut and cauterized toprevent injury to other animals and the owner. However, the vast majority of bison in Alberta arenot dehorned or tipped. The industry, in collaboration with AFAC and Alberta Agriculture, Foodand Rural Development (AAFRD) is involved in a research project investigating on-farm surgicalprocedures in bison. The study will determine the impact of dehorning and tipping at weaning.
Bison owners recognize that for any management program to be successful, they must learn,understand, and respect bison behavior. Through a unique partnership between the ABA, the PCBAand AAFRD bison producers have a one-stop source of leading edge, reliable and accurate bisoninformation at the Leduc Bison Centre of Excellence. They use other resources such as the cen-tre’s site — www.Bisoncentre.com — and a video produced by AAFRD in 2001 —Handling Bison:Safely and Effectively to ensure that their handling and management practices are welfare friend-ly, timely and appropriate.
Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT RESOURCE 1F PMU FARMS
There are approximately 35,000 broodmares (pregnant female horses) involved in the NorthAmerican PMU (pregnant mare urine) ranching industry. 59 PMU ranchers in Alberta own approxi-mately 7,000 of these mares — making up roughly 20% of the North American industry. Mostranchers are second or third generation horse breeders who own their own horses. They areinvolved in the care and handling of horses for a variety of purposes other than PMU production.
PMU contains the estrogens used in the production of Premarin®, a hormone replacement therapyfor post-menopausal women.
Critics of the PMU industry say the mares are confined to small stalls for six months at a time withinadequate bedding, exercise, veterinary care and nutrition. They also claim that the pharmaceuti-cal manufacturer encourage ranchers to limit the mare’s drinking water to ensure a greater con-centration of estrogen in the urine. (The pharmaceutical manufacturer pays the ranchers on thequality, not the quantity of urine produced.) Insufficient hydration can cause renal (kidney) andliver problems.
The treatment of foals — an obvious byproduct of the PMU collection industry as the mares mustbe pregnant for their urine to contain estrogens— is also criticized. A number are fattened infeedlots and sold to European and Asian markets where horsemeat is considered a delicacy.
The PMU ranchers respond that they have more checks and balances to ensure animal care andwelfare than any other livestock industry — making it one of the most regulated and closelyinspected equine-related activities in the world. The mares are housed in tie stalls in well lit, venti-lated barns during the six month collection period — October to March — where they are able tomove and lie down while wearing their collection harnesses. Under the Recommended Code ofPractice for the Care and Handling of Horses in PMU Operations the mares must be kept in stallsproportional to their size and have sufficient bedding.
A veterinarian must examine all mares at least three times during the collection season or approxi-mately every six to seven weeks. They must be exercised daily, fed a balanced diet and given clean,fresh water at least five times a day. Inspectors conduct monthly farms visits to ensure these stan-dards are met.
The vast majority of PMU foals are sold each year for recreation, ranching and showing or kept forreplacement broodmares. The remainder are sold to feedlots — due to consumer demand forhorsemeat. Horse feedlots operators are guided by a Recommended Code of Practice and integrateanimal welfare into their quality assurance programs. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:
Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1G DAIRY CATTLE
Alberta is Canada's third largest milk-producing province with approximately 85,000 dairy cowsproducing over 600 million litres of milk annually. The dairy industry is Alberta's second largestlivestock sector and generates over $700 million in revenues each year. Nearly all of westernCanada's ice cream, yogurt, and sour cream processing occurs in Alberta.
Most Alberta dairy farms have about 80 milking cows and about 150 animals in total. The otheranimals include calves (babies), heifers (young females) and dry cows (those not being milked). Tomake milk, a cow must give birth to a calf. Dairy cows produce about 7,300 litres of milk a lacta-tion (yearly milking cycle). Their calves only need 255 litres. Cows are milked with an electronicmilking machine that gently sucks the milk out of their teats in about five minutes. This is done atleast twice, sometimes three times a day, during their lactation.
Critics are most concerned about dairy barn housing systems for lactating cows. They say thathousing lactating cows indoors is unnatural. They say that barn stalls are uncomfortable foranimals that tend to spend the majority of their day lying down. They also state that barn flooringis chronically wet and hard. This can contribute to hoof and leg problems.
Critics are also concerned with tail docking — which refers to the removal of the lower portion ofthe tail. Critics say tail docking has no effect on udder health. It is done for ease of milking.
The industry supports the Universities of Alberta and British Columbia who are currently research-ing the welfare implications of dairy housing systems and management practices. The industryknows that comfortable cows are healthier and produce more milk. Barn housing protects cows from environmental extremes. Dairy producers use the RecommendedCode of Practice that specifies space dimensions for tie and free stalls based on weight. They ensurebarn floors and stalls are well drained and bedded. In addition, cows are not kept indoors all yearround. Dry cows are generally put out on pasture prior to calving.
Tail docking is rare in Alberta. Most producers prefer the non-invasive procedure of switch trim-ming (cutting the hair at the end of the tail) to ensure ease of milking and udder cleanliness.
Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT RESOURCE 1H BROILERS CHICKENS AND TURKEYS
In Alberta, 290 producers raise approximately 56 million broiler chickens a year — approximately113.5 million kilograms of fresh chicken meat. The majority of these producers operate on aneight-week production cycle. Broilers reach market weight (1.5-2 kilograms) at approximatelyseven weeks. Producers then have a week to clean and disinfect the barns in preparation for thenext flock of broiler chicks.
Alberta’s 62 turkey producers raise approximately 2 million turkeys a year — approximately 14million kilograms of fresh turkey. There are three main classes of turkey production: broilers,heavy hens and heavy toms. Each class has its own market weight.
Critics of the industry are concerned with the birds’ fast growth. When birds are selectively bred forgrowth and exposed to artificial lighting to encourage them to eat more, they reach market weightvery rapidly. This stresses the circulatory system as it does not grow at the same rate. Bone weak-nesses from the weight of their bodies are also prevalent. Breakage can occur when birds are beingplaced in crates for transport. Handling and transportation are major stressors.
The poultry meat industry in Alberta links a safe food product with better management and betteranimal welfare. The industry is researching ways to breed for stronger bones as well as fast growth. Producers walk through their barns every day. If a bird is weak or injured, they quickly andhumanely kill it. Because of economics, they do not treat the problem, but they do track it. If theysee a trend, they remedy the problem to prevent it from happening again.
To remedy problems associated with handling and transportation broiler chicken producers areutilizing mechanical catchers. The catchers gently scoop the broilers up. This is less stressful thanhuman contact and quite efficient for the producer. It also reduces the number of injuries that maybe caused through human handling.
Turkey producers quietly herd their birds into a V shaped pen when readying them for transport. The birds move individually into an enclosed conveyor belt. The conveyor belt is like a movingsidewalk to a truck where they are gently placed in crates.
Both broilers and turkeys are increasingly being transported at night — they are less flighty andstress is reduced — due to the calming darkness. Well-ventilated, temperature-controlled trucksare used for transport. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit: Alberta T
Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1I LAYING HENS
There are 170 registered egg producers in Alberta. The average size of an egg-laying operation isapproximately 8,250 hens. Registered producers have over 300 layer hens and are represented bythe Alberta Egg Producers Board (AEPB). The Alberta egg industry is a national leader in the areaof humane animal care. Industry has recognized that not only is it the right thing to do buthealthy hens lay more eggs!
Critics of the industry are most concerned with two main issues: cages and cage space, and beaktrimming. They say that cages limit a hen’s natural instincts and that the limited space promotesdisease and injury. Beak trimming is cited as a form of mutilation.
Layer hens are usually housed in cages. The cages are in large, well-ventilated, temperature-controlled barns where the cages are easily cleaned, eggs are quickly gathered, and food and wateris readily accessible to all hens. These factors reduce illness and disease, as well as protect themfrom predators and other hens. A cleaner, healthier environment for poultry workers also exists asdust from manure is controlled.
The 2003 Code of Practice recommends adult hens weighing 1.7 kilograms should have 67 sq. inches of cage floor space. These are typically white egg layers. Hens weighing 1.9 kilograms need75 sq. inches of space. These are typically brown egg layers. Most producers registered with theAEPB have white egg layers. The AEPB Regulations now require 67 sq. inches of cage floor spaceper hen for any new cages built. Producers keep an average of five hens per cage.
An two year joint research study between government and industry on enriched cages began inmid 2003 at the University of Alberta. This cage allows for greater exhibition of instinctual behav-ior in hens, but, as with conventional cages, protects the eggs and hens from aggressors, disease,and manure contamination. Enriched cages contain a perch, a dust bath, nesting area and peckingstrips. Depending on stocking levels, the enriched cage study will allow for 68 to over 100 sq. inches of cage space per hen. This builds on preliminary research of Dr. M. Appleby. Beak trimming removes the sharp tip of young hens’ beaks. This limits the injuries that may occurwhen hens naturally peck at objects and other hens. In Canada, beak trimming is a highly special-ized procedure — performed only by a trained professional — using specialized equipment. Sanitation and infection prevention are prioritized.
In addition, geneticists are working to develop non-aggressive hens which will hopefully eliminatethe need for beak trimming altogether. Reduced stocking rates within enriched cages may alsoreduce aggression and the need for beak trimming. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:Alberta Egg Producers Boar
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT RESOURCE 1J
Alberta has the fourth largest pig population in Canada — nearly 1.8 million. Mother pigs (sows)usually give birth to eight to twelve piglets at a time. Sows are pregnant for three months, threeweeks and three days and will generally have two litters a year. The pigs are raised on about 2,000farms through a wide variety of production methods. However, the majority of pigs are raised inindoor housing systems that protect them from heat, cold and disease.
Critics are particularly concerned about one form of housing used in pig production — stalls forgestating (pregnant) sows. The stalls severely restrict sow movement and can lead to problemssuch as lameness and chronic stress. In addition, the confined conditions allow them to be fed andcared for by a minimal and unskilled labor force.
Gestation stalls offer pork producers the economic benefits of controlled management. They areendorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for the following reasons: (1)physical aggression and competition is minimized between the sows; (2) environmental extremes,particularly temperature, are removed; (3) hazards that cause injuries are non existent; (4) eachsow has unimpeded access to food and water; and (5) individual observations of the sow take placeensuring swift action if she is not functioning to her full potential.
However, Dr. Peter Theran, an AVMA delegate states, "the standards are the most elemental thatcould be listed. If we accept the standards, we'll come into deserved criticism as an organizationthat doesn't place much value on animal welfare."
The Alberta pork industry is encouraging housing systems that offer more than physical animalwelfare benefits to sows. Collaborative research projects between industry and academia areinvestigating technological innovations for loose or group sow housing systems. Both the PrairieSwine Centre in Saskatchewan and the Livestock Welfare Research Partnership are investigatingthe variables that go into designing modern group housing systems.
They have found that stress and injury caused by sow aggression is influenced by the housing sys-tem, stocking density, feeding method and method of mixing sows. At present a dilemma exists forproducers. Group housing has the benefits of increased mobility, socialization and choice for thesow but stalls make individual feeding and monitoring easier and eliminates physical aggression. Through ongoing research and refinement of group housing and feeding systems it is anticipatedthat this dilemma will be resolved. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit: Livestock W
Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1K
There are approximately 40,000 elk in Alberta that are farmed by 425 members of the Alberta ElkCommission. Elk are farmed for their meat (venison), hides and velvet antler. Velvet antler is usedwidely in Asia as a primary ingredient in holistic medicines. There is an expanding demand for thevelvet antler products in North America as more people turn to holistic medicine.
Bull (male) elk grow new antlers every year. In the wild, the antlers harden, similar to bones, andshed the fuzzy outer or ‘velvet’ layer of skin-like tissue. Spring sunshine is nature’s way of tellingthe elk to drop last years’ antlers and begin growing new ones. Elk farmers harvest velvet antler inMay or June by surgically removing the antlers. The antlers grow back each year as they would inthe wild.
Critics of the industry have questioned the methods of velvet antler removal. They are concernedthat untrained individuals remove the antlers without adequate anesthetic. Critics also questionthe philosophy of domesticating a wild animal. Others take issue with trophy or hunt farms.
In Alberta, the use of acceptable anesthesia for velvet antler removal is required by the regulationsgoverning game animal farming. In 2001, it became mandatory for all elk ranchers that removeantlers to complete the Velvet Antler Removal Certification program — developed by the AlbertaElk Commission in consultation with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association. Ranchers areeducated on methods of pain control and the safe and humane removal of antlers. Antler removalalso protects the welfare of both the elk and the owner, as bulls will instinctually compete fordominance through sparring and chasing.
Domestication has doubled the lifespan for bull elk — from about eight to 16 years. Domesticatedelk cows also enjoy increased longevity and productivity. They are capable of producing calves eachyear until they are 15 to 20 years old. Though the elk are ‘domesticated’, they are minimally han-dled to mimic the ‘near natural’ state. Bull elk are not castrated. Elk trophy or hunt farms are currently illegal in Alberta. They exist in Saskatchewan and Quebecand are highly regulated — more so than wilderness hunting. Elk hunting farms are usually verylarge acreages in rough or wooded terrain so that the trophy bull has an opportunity to elude thehunter. The hunt farm industry argues that all of the elk will die eventually so if their death doesnot cause them undue suffering, then there are no animal welfare concerns. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT RESOURCE 1L LIVESTOCK TRANSPORTATION
Approximately 137,000 loads of Albertan farm animals are regularly hauled in specially designedtrailers to other farms, feedlots, auction markets and abattoirs per year. These numbers do notinclude farm-to-farm, farm to pasture or in-house pig movements. These destinations may be inAlberta, in other provinces or in the United States. Air transport of cattle and horses also occurs,particularly to overseas destinations.
Critics of farm animal transportation say that it causes distress. They claim that loading andunloading are often accomplished with excessive noise and roughness. In transit, the animals canbe exposed to temperature fluctuations, dust, exhaust, carbon monoxide and noise. The ride isgenerally rough, due to road conditions and lack of driver training. Most of the animals are unac-customed to being transported, and the very novelty of the experience is stressful.
Professional livestock transporters are proud of what they do and how they manage the animals intheir care. One proactive approach has been the creation of AFAC and industry co-sponsored haul-ing and handling courses for cattle, horses and pigs. Albertan livestock producer groups, abattoirsand government departments endorse these courses and encourage participation.
Participants in the courses are trained in the unique psychology, instincts and behavior of cattle,horses and pigs. This knowledge ensures low stress handling techniques are applied throughoutthe transportation process. Excessive noise and roughness are not tolerated. The courses alsoinclude proactive driving tips for braking, cornering and hazardous road conditions. This ensures asmoother, more comfortable ride for the animals.
Darkness calms barn-housed animals so they are generally transported at night. Trucks andtrailers also have removable slats or side covers that can be rolled down to mitigate temperaturefluctuations, dust, exhaust, carbon monoxide and noise. Air circulation and quality is alsoenhanced through the use of central venting — particularly in poultry transportation.
The industry acknowledges that the transportation of farm animals is complex, involving manydifferent participants, destinations, obstacles, and environmental variables. Efforts are under wayto ensure a single body represents the interests of humane livestock transportation amidst thiscomplexity.
In addition, livestock transportation is regulated by at least six separate provincial and federal laws. Depending on their areas of authority, inspectors from Alberta Transportation and the CanadianFood Inspection Agency; and RCMP and Alberta SPCA constables enforce these laws. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:Livestock Tr
Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1M ABATTOIRS
Alberta has 36 federally registered and 155 provincially inspected meat and poultry abattoirs. Federally inspected abattoirs operate under the supervision of the Canadian Food InspectionAgency and can sell their products to local and export markets. Provincially inspected abattoirs arerestricted to local markets. They operate under the supervision of inspectors from AlbertaAgriculture, Food and Rural Development - Food Safety Division, Regulatory Services Branch.
Alberta abattoirs are modern and efficient. They are customized facilities — specifically designedfor the type of animal(s) they process.
Critics of the industry are concerned that not all animals are humanely killed. They cite poorwork practices, equipment failure and management pressure to maintain high production linespeed as key reasons for their concerns. They question handling facility designs and handlingmethods that create distressed animals that exhibit fear responses. Critics maintain that abattoirmanagement are motivated by profits — abattoir efficiency is paramount, not animal welfare.
Both the federal and provincial Meat Inspection Acts have very strict regulations to ensure thehumane handling and killing of animals. All animals are inspected upon arrival at an abattoir. Ifthey are deemed unhealthy or unfit for human consumption they are immediately euthanized andtheir bodies disposed of appropriately. Animals fit for consumption are moved quietly to an areawhere they are killed humanely. Methods used to do this vary according to the animal’s physiology. However, all methods are designed so that animals do not suffer.
Albertan abattoirs are interested in animal welfare. They see it as an ethical responsibility of theirindustry. The abattoir is the last stage of a farmed animal’s life cycle. Handling and housing theanimals with the same care that they received on farm is essential.
They seek and follow the advice of Dr. Temple Grandin, a world-renowned animal behaviorresearcher with a particular interest in animal handling facility designs and handling methods. Herlow stress facilities and handling methods are regularly audited through her objective scoringsystem.
Dr. Grandin stresses that abattoir employees — who work with hundreds of animals a day and maybecome desensitized to the animals needs — require strong management to act as their con-science. Trained, well-managed employees recognize that abattoir efficiency and safety increaseswhen animals are properly handled and monitor their actions accordingly. In turn, well-handledanimals produce the high quality meat product that consumers demand. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit: Dr. T
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT RESOURCE 1N BIOTECHNOLOGY AND GENETIC ENGINEERING
Biotechnology and genetic engineering are interchangeable terms. There is a wide array of‘biotechnologies’ with different techniques and applications. The Food and AgricultureOrganization of the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity defines biotechnology as —“any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives there-of, to make or modify products or processes for specific use”.
Interpreted in this broad sense, the definition of biotechnology covers many of the tools and tech-niques that are commonplace in agriculture and food production. Interpreted in a narrow sense,which considers only the new DNA techniques, molecular biology and reproductive technologicalapplications, the definition covers a range of different technologies such as gene manipulation andgene transfer, DNA typing and cloning of plants and animals.
While there is little controversy about many aspects of biotechnology and its application, geneti-cally modified organisms (GMOs) have become the target of a very intensive and, at times,emotionally charged debate. Critics assert that genetically altered farm animals are being createdsolely for human benefit and that science is being used as a substitute for good managementpractices. They cite welfare problems for farm animals bred for increased production of eggs, meat,milk or fibre. Pigs and poultry, for example, have experienced problems with leg strength, osteo-porosis and arthritis when altered to promote growth.
Critics’ argue about acceptable limits when ‘tampering’ with nature and what will happen to the‘unsuccessful’ experimental animals.
The Expert Panel on Husbandry of Animals Derived from Bioengineering — sponsored byAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada —completed guidelines and an assessment tool for industry and government in 2002. These toolsensure that animal welfare is a key feature of biotechnology research. In addition, the CFIA, alongwith other government departments regulate biotechnology products and developments to protectboth animal and human health, and the environment.
Researchers acknowledge that the production capability of genetically selected and/or geneticallyengineered animals will only be fully realized in optimum environmental and managementconditions. In short, biotechnology cannot substitute for good management practices.
Biotechnology is allowing researchers to breed farm animals with increased disease resistance andcalm dispositions. These factors will enhance their quality of life. Scientists are ascertaining howgenetic selection and modification for optimum production can be obtained — with the leastamount of stress on the animal. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit:
Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaSTUDENT RESOURCE 1O ‘ALTERNATIVELY RAISED’ ANIMALS
In Alberta, farm animals are raised using many methods. The ‘small, family farm’ still thrives. However, large livestock operations are prevalent and are owned by both families and companies. They are known by a variety of names — Confined Feeding Operations (CFOs) within the industry;and ‘factory farms’ or ‘intensive livestock operations’ by people who do not agree with this methodof production. CFOs are resource efficient, which is why livestock are raised this way.
Critics of CFOs say that this method of production is not ethical. They cite animal welfare issues(raised in Case Studies A-K), and health and environmental risks. Many believe that a diversifiedfamily farm system in which livestock and crop production is integrated contributes to a healthyenvironment, healthy animals, and a safe, regional food supply. They claim that CFOs do not offerthese benefits but ‘alternative’ methods of production do. At present, food animal production in Alberta, be it in a CFO, on a regular ‘family farm’ or an‘alternatively-raised farm’ is done by people who care about their animals, their environment, andthe food they produce. They raise their animals humanely and meet or exceed the standards of careand handling in Canada’s recommended codes of practice. In addition, they strongly support theenforcement of laws in place to protect livestock welfare on farm, during transport and at abat-toirs.
However, raising animals for food production is a diverse and complex business. Consumers wantsafe, healthy food. They want this food to come from animals that have been humanely raised andeuthanized. And, they want this food to be inexpensive.
Dr. Temple Grandin — a world-renowned animal behavior researcher who has earned industryrespect for her methods that improve animal welfare and productivity — says that the food animalindustry in North America has minimum decent standards that will soon be audited This willensure that the public can buy food products that meet the above criteria.
There will also be other production systems — generally on smaller ‘family farms’ — that havehigher standards for the humane treatment of farm animals. At present these ‘alternative’ systemsare marketed as ‘free range’, ‘free farmed’ and ‘humanely raised’. ‘Certified-organic’ products arealso associated with high humane standards for farm animals. To ensure those marketing their‘alternative’ products do have higher welfare standards the federal government will need to reviewall labeling programs. Currently, many of the claims made are unverifiable. Note: Not all criticisms of the industry have been raised in this case study and the industryresponse is not intended to be comprehensive. For further information/clarification visit: Dr. T
Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherSTUDENT ACTIVITY 1 Case Study Analysis Topic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTEACHER REFLECTION
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Teacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in AlbertaTopic 7: Case Studies - Bringing It All TogetherTopic 7: Bringing It All Together - Case StudiesTeacher’s Guide to Farm Animal Welfare in Alberta
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